Your shout: IT support, records management, perimeter security

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Computer Weekly readers' have their say on the week's news

Empower your end-users to improve IT support

Dave Stephenson

With regard to the report "Research reveals lack of faith in helpdesk", to some extent, basic attempts to fix problems, such as restarting applications or rebooting a PC, should be encouraged where the user feels confident.

Increased end-user self-sufficiency, including some hardware fault diagnosis, was always encouraged when I ran a large UK helpdesk for a major early Epos installation with more than 13,000 PC-based tills and 2,000 PCs. It was the only way to achieve good service levels with the limited systems management tools available.

Power to the people! It works.

Leaving the queues in favour of DIY fixes

Shirley Goodman

I agree that most users would rather try to fix a problem themselves than call the helpdesk.

You can add me to the list of those trying to solve a problem several times before asking the helpdesk because the wait time is too long and half the support staff don't understand the company sites and admin systems.

If there is also a third-party provider off-site, forget it - the queue goes on forever.

Revenue's love of paper is holding back UK business

Michael A Sheehan, systems@work

It is ironic that the government may prosecute organisations for not having electronic copies of 10-year-old paper records when it is discouraging companies from using electronic expense management systems by prohibiting the electronic copying of paper receipts ("Deadline for digitising paper records looms").

The fact that HM Revenue and Customs insists on the six-year retention of paper receipts is a clear disincentive to organisations to adopt a wholesale electronic strategy for expense claims, and it is a clear contradiction to the government's approach to paper-based records. There are clear financial and productivity benefits to digitising expense forms.

Furthermore, the technology is proven and organisations are keen to further exploit online technologies - so what is the government waiting for?

It is time for the government to stop creating contradictions with its policies and endorse truly effective business practices for the 21st century.

Why the wall around your systems is not secure

Ian Dobson, director, Jericho Forum, on behalf of the Jericho Forum Board

With regard to the article "Deperimeterised approach to security is not suitable for everyone, warn analysts", would that analysts were held to the same levels of rigour as are professional journalists!

The Jericho Forum does not propose the wholesale removal of perimeter defences. Both the analysts you quote, and another from Gartner heard at the recent Microsoft CISO Summit, do not appear to have read the Jericho Forum Commandments, for had they done so they would realise that far from negating the Jericho Forum position, they were, in the main, very effectively describing it.

Thank you for giving members of the Jericho Forum the opportunity to respond in the same article. You were clearly following the principles of good journalism.

Please can you help the "security analysts" you quoted understand through future articles that the Jericho Forum does not advocate deperimeterisation per se.

We simply believe, like the burghers of the City of Paris, that the perimeter is no longer "all it was cracked up to be" (a longer way of saying that they were experiencing deperimeterisation!) after they discovered that merchants had built private gates into the wall, which they neglected to guard at night.

It was to be many years before the burghers had redesigned the city defences sufficiently to allow them to remove the insecure wall.

Analysts who encourage less-aware security professionals - and indeed small businesses that cannot afford them - to stay with the false belief that the outer perimeter is sound are not helping us enhance our security. In short, deperimeterisation is happening to us whether we like it or not.

Traditional 'break-fix' IT helpdesk is doomed

Phil Sansom, Kaseya

The traditional "break-fix" IT helpdesk is doomed, and the statistics about faith in the support function are of little surprise.

IT call centres are intrinsically reactive and spend time responding to problems which could have easily been avoided. Those more serious situations are dealt with by a despatched engineer, often a day or more after the original complaint. In the typically fast-paced business world, this is clearly unacceptable.

The survey results show a reluctance to rely on such a service but, nonetheless, this is the service model provided by many. A modern IT managed service provider needs to be proactive and prevent such problems arising in the first place by constantly remotely monitoring and updating a client's system.

Anti-virus updates, anti-spyware software and temporary internet files, all of which can cause serious problems, can be dealt with before an IT failure occurs and, more importantly, they can be handled remotely and unobtrusively.

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